I was talking to a colleague yesterday, and he used the word ‘bulletproof’ to describe the robustness of our services. I responded with “That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.” It got me thinking about buzzwords we use for hosting that sound good but aren’t. I’ve tried to crack the code on a few of those phrases below.
1) Bulletproof hosting
What the customer is meant to assume: “I don’t want my sites to go down no matter what happens. So I want them to be bulletproof, right?”
Cracking the code: The host is a haven for criminals. Are you one?
Want to SPAM, distribute warez, pirate Avatar, or stream child porn on your servers? Go nuts!
You can be as illegal as you want and they won’t pull the plug. They’ll hide from the authorities so you don’t have to!
The bottom line: A respectable business doesn’t want “bulletproof” hosting. Period.
2) Unlimited hosting
What the customer is meant to assume: ” I don’t want limits on my hosting! Who wants limits on their hosting? Of course I want my hosting to be unlimited!!111″
Cracking the code: I’ve made my feelings on Unlimited Hosting well known.
In the context of these providers, “Unlimited” really means “We’re not going to tell you how well your systems are going to be able to scale, so good luck growing!” These providers bet on the majority of their users simply not using that many resources to compensate for those that do. But believe me, there’s a limit, a responsible provider will simply boot any abuser off their network if they start taking the term “unlimited” literally.
Contrast this with a provider like us who tells you precisely what you’re getting for your hard earn money and I think you’ll agree we have the better business model.
It’s a lazy, lying marketing game to call a hosting product unlimited and I am still disgusted that otherwise respectable hosts use it.
The bottom line: If you want to set yourself up for surprise failure, buy into the hype – go unlimited.
3) Cheap hosting
What the customer is meant to assume: “These guys are amazing! I’ve never heard of them but they say they can host my whole business and give me 100% uptime and rock solid support for a few bucks a month. Of course I want to save the money and get me some cheap hosting!”
Cracking the code: If it’s too good to be true, it is. We’ve been around for over 15 years, and we’ve seen more dead, failed, shuttered hosts than you can imagine.
Many of them were hot for a while before they up and died. Most lie about their infrastructure and experience to get you to pull the trigger.
Experience matters. Transparency matters too.
Learn about who you are trusting your business to, and figure out what you’re giving up when hunting for a bargain.
The bottom line: Going out of business is not cheap. Stay away from cheap hosting.
4) Free hosting
What the customer is meant to assume: “I get to put up anything I want and you won’t charge me anything? Where do I sign up? Of course I want free hosting!”
Cracking the code: Somebody else gets to make money off of the efforts you put in. Somebody else gets to exert control over you if they want to, whether you are doing something illegal or not. Somebody else is deciding what resources you need to grow. And they are getting a big cut of the fruits of your labor, which isn’t very ‘free’ at the end of the day.
Whether they are selling ads based on your content, or whether they are simply taking a cut of your revenue or of the traffic that you attract, that’s money you’re not getting. With a provider like ServInt, you know exactly what you’re getting.
The bottom line: TANSTAAFL. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Know what you’re giving up to get a free resource. If you are popular in the least, I’ll bet it’s far more than what you could gain by taking control yourself.
5) Windows hosting
What the customer is meant to assume: “I’ll get the same level of usability, security, performance, and reliability that I get on my Windows desktop! Of course I want Windows hosting!”
Cracking the code: You’ll get the same level of usability, security, performance, and reliability that you get on your Windows desktop! Yikes!
The bottom line: Ok ok, that was mostly a joke. Windows hosting does indeed do some things really well.
But as a general rule, the infrastructure that supports the bulk of the Internet is Open Source and the vast majority of server related applications, and the innovation guiding them, is based on free and open software.
In general, steer clear of Windows hosting unless you absolutely need it for a specific technological reason.
Cracking the code,
Last week, myself and Christian were in San Francisco for O’Reilly Media’s famous Web 2.0 Conference.
There were some really compelling keynotes, fascinating panels, and the show floor, while small, did its job of showcasing the current focus of the tech industry. What I found most interesting was the seemingly laser-like focus the entire tech industry seemed to have on three key development priorities, and Web 2.0 showcased them handily.
After four days there, I have a few take-aways that I think do a good job of summarizing where today’s developers see the future of the web.
ServInt’s hosting is based on CentOS, an open-source derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux that we’ve worked painstakingly on customizing over the years. We don’t generally offer Microsoft products simply because they aren’t as easy to deploy in our VPS and dedicated server implementation, and being new to this industry I simply assumed the same went for many if not most of our competitors and colleagues as well.
So I have to say I was honestly surprised last week when myself, Christian, Taylor, and Matt from ServInt all attended HostingCon at National Harbor, right across the river in Maryland, and I was first introduced to Microsoft’s resurgent presence in hosting.
The show was my first in this industry, and it was a fun and enlightening experience. I found that hosting, as a whole, was quite healthy, and most companies were using the economy as an opportunity to drive innovation and development.
If people aren’t buying the old, bring in the new.
Our good friend, Parallels Chairman and CEO Serguei Belloussov, gave the keynote last Monday outlining Parallels’ various products for the upcoming year. He also announced that Parallels was working with Microsoft on a series of new products and product enhancements to better connect the Linux and Windows worlds.
I looked around, nervous.
Here was a room full of people who, like ServInt, have built successful companies out of primarily deploying Linux-based solutions, and not only were they talking openly about working with Microsoft, but the Microsoft and Parallels booths were right next to one another! What has the world come to?
The attitude had changed, it seems that Microsoft no longer had the reputation of being the giant evil behemoth it was once assumed to be. It’s a softer, friendlier, and — dare I say — more open company today than it was just a few years ago.
Since 2007, Microsoft implemented open xml in Office 2007 (ironically leading to the famous injunction against Word last week), they open-sourced key linux drivers under the GPLv2, and they deployed the world’s largest, longest, and arguably most successful open-beta of a closed source product to date with Windows 7. Couple this with the terrific work in the company’s XBox division and you have a company that, at least at the surface, has fundamentally changed.
Of course, 1 Microsoft Way still has plenty of testiness left. CEO Steve Balmer’s claim in 2006 that Linux violated more than 200 Microsoft patents was absurd and the litigious spree they attempted shortly thereafter would be just as funny if it didn’t threaten to put people out of business.
Microsoft was successful because it discovered it’s strengths early, it made products that only it could make at the time. In the past decade, it’s business got a lot more competitive and the company branched into completely new markets. It soon realized that it no longer had to just compete with huge companies, it had to compete with free.
With that, I’m interested to see what comes out of Redmond in these last few months of 2009 and beyond. Is this a new attitude towards a world of open information or a way to embed proprietary standards under the guise FLOSSy cooperation? That remains to be seen.
In the meantime, I’ll wait it out on my Mac.
Photo by Thomas Hawk